Not being of the West; being behind the West; not being modern enough; not being developed or industrialized, secular, civilized, Christian, transparent, or democratic – these descriptions have all served to stigmatize certain states through history. Drawing on constructivism as well as the insights of social theorists and philosophers, After Defeat demonstrates that stigmatization in international relations can lead to a sense of national shame, as well as auto-Orientalism and inferior status. Ayşe Zarakol argues that stigmatized states become extra-sensitive to concerns about status, and shape their foreign policy accordingly. The theoretical argument is supported by a detailed historical overview of central examples of the established/outsider dichotomy throughout the evolution of the modern states system, and in-depth studies of Turkey after the First World War, Japan after the Second World War, and Russia after the Cold War
‘Africa’s wishlist for the Biden administration: Expectations vs reality’.
Newly elected US President Joe Biden confronts enormous challenges in Africa with regard to reversing four years of the Donald Trump administration that was largely characterised by disdain, disinterest and derision toward the continent. The change of the guard in the White House come January 2021 is expected to herald a shift in tone and style toward the continent, which has always yearned for a prime spot on a crowded US foreign policy agenda. As I argued previously, there are high expectations of his presidency because most Africans regard democratic administrations to be more closely aligned to Africa’s concerns and interests. This essay analyses growing perceptions in Africa about the Biden administration and the possibilities for it meeting some of the continent’s objectives.
Applying postcolonial approaches to studies of Africa-EU relations
This chapter outlines the importance of postcolonial approaches for the study of Africa-EU relations. It contextualises such approaches in negotiation practices and outcomes of the EU proposed Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). Though academic literature on Africa-EU relations tends to define such relations as being asymmetrical, the politics around the negotiations of the EPAs through postcolonial lenses reveals contestations around the assumptions of such asymmetries. The very constitution of the EU was also a product of colonial legacy. The pursuits of European colonisers stretched throughout the world, but unlike the Americas and Asia, Africa held a special place in the efforts to construct European economic integration. Since the 1990s, Africa-EU relations have been based on neoliberal principles, with the EU considering trade and market liberalisation as central to poverty reduction while African leaders have also equated it with development.
The Status of African Women in Foreign Policy
‘The Status of African Women in Foreign Policy’ focuses on the necessity of reducing the underrepresentation of African women in foreign policy, the barriers that hinder this development, and solutions to overcome those. According to Bimha, filling the gender gap, or solving the underrepresentation of women, will constitute the end of discrimination against women. Moreover, she argues, this is necessary to repair the currently male-dominated nature of international relations and will complement to reformation process of gender stereotypes, namely, “men as decision-makers and women as subjects of war-related decisions”. However, Bimha recognizes that certain barriers that this underrepresentation are alive. She notes that, although the number of female representatives is increasing, these women are often assigned to less significant posts.
The impact of IR & politics being male-dominated
The heads of state often make diplomatic appointments. If a head of state, which is often male, is conservative, he is less likely to appoint female diplomats, as they are often very progressive and transformation-oriented. This is also apparent in party-bias, a phenomenon where party leaders prefer to promote male candidates over female candidates. , even though female candidates have not been proven to attract fewer votes than male candidates. The underrepresentation of women in politics is a vicious cycle, with males in the male-dominated field of IR theory and politics preferring the appointment of men over the appointment of women. This is reinforced by sociocultural standards and expectations, as African women are still mostly associated with the domestic sphere. However, little attention is paid to IR theory and politics being male-dominated, even though it is apparent that this does have a big impact on the underrepresentation of women in the field.
The underrepresentation of feminism in the IR curriculum and its consequences
In the ‘Introduction Course International Relations’ at Utrecht University, different IR theories have been discussed. While extensive attention has been paid to especially realism and liberalism, which are both male-dominated IR theories, feminism has been discussed for exactly 3 minutes and 48 seconds during the lecture on IR theories and has not been discussed in the seminars to the same extent as the other IR theories. This is a great although a small example of feminism theories being vastly underrepresented in the IR curriculum. Therefore, Bimha argues that the international relations curriculum should be reformed into a more gender-sensitive one with an increased focus on feminism and female contributions in the field.
The importance of spreading awareness of IR and politics being male-dominated can be illustrated by a small comparison with another article on women in international relations. The other article reviewed appoints the underrepresentation of women in the IR field to them being a minority group and therefore behaving differently, or them focussing on topics that are not considered important in mainstream IR. These arguments may seem plausible to people who lack the understanding that the field of IR is male-dominated. But students who are aware of this unequal representation may ask the following questions: who steers mainstream IR research? What causes women to be a minority in the field of IR? Who keeps that disbalance intact? Thinking about these questions and critically reviewing the conclusions of reports on women in international relations is a crucial step in academics. However, the ability to perform this critical thinking is subject to one’s understanding of the field. Therefore, awareness of and the spread of knowledge on the IR field being male-dominated, thereby reinforcing the vicious cycle of women being underrepresented, is incredibly important and should be part of the IR curriculum.
‘India and the Balance of Power’
India is on the verge of becoming a great power and the swing state in the international system. As a large, multiethnic, economically powerful, non-Western democracy, it will play a key role in the great struggles of the coming years. Washington has recognized the potential of a U.S.-Indian alliance, but translating that potential into reality will require engaging India on its own terms.